National Geographic : 1962 Jul
granary, and smokehouse-that the Park Service preserves for historic value. Kermit and his family live in a more modern house. I was there on a warm spring day as the poplar honey was coming to an end. With Kermit, I sat under a "green shadder gum tree," watching queen bees high in flight with drones in fast pursuit. I hated to leave the idyllic spot, not only because of its beauty and serenity but also because of the music of Kermit's talk. "Next we'll have basswood honey. Last'll be sourwood. Hit's lemon color. Never seed bees go crazy like they do on sourwood. By early August hit's all gone." Rhododendron, which the mountain peo ple call laurel, and laurel, which they call ivy, also produce honey. Rhododendron honey is poisonous to humans, and some people say laurel honey is, too. "But bees won't work on laurel or ivy when t'other honey-crop blos soms are in bloom," said Kermit. Kermit keeps jars of honey out by the road. A sign requests the purchaser to put a dollar into a box Kermit has fixed there. "Does everyone pay a dollar?" I asked. "Don't lose but a smidgen," Kermit replied. "It proves people are honest," I ventured. "Not so sartin," Kermit said knowingly. "Show ye whut I mean." It then appeared that the bee gum closest to the honey stand was a hollow dummy. Ker mit slipped inside it easily. "Naow, pick up a bottle and I'll tell the hand ye use." He followed my every movement through the peephole. Then he rejoined me by the road and told me how the previous Sunday he had caught two boys taking two jars for two pennies, and one distinguished-looking man who pretended to put a dollar into the box but palmed it instead. "I cotched you, I cotched you," hollered Kermit, as he rose out of the box. "Never seed a man so shook up," he laughed. "That dummy beehive must be an uncom fortable place to spend Sunday," I observed. "Me and the kids, we take turns. Man can suffer a bit of discomfit when hit's his livin' at stake." Kermit and his wife Lois have four chil- "I've shore had more trouble with b'ars and bees than any livin' man." Kermit Caughron, helmeted with a veil, carries a smoke gun to stupefy his bees. Beehives fill Kermit's front yard. He leaned against the fence, explaining to me the problems of the bee gums: "That b'ar did everything to contrary me. So I moved my bee gums hyar."